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WADA voices concerns on UCI biological passport

The Wall Street Journal has reported that five riders who showed anomalous values in blood and urine tests carried out as part of the UCI’s biological passport programme have as yet not been sanctioned.

According to the newspaper, the independent nine-person biological passport committee highlighted eight blood profiles that it regarded as suspicious and brought them to the attention of the UCI last December. Three of those riders, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Jesús Rosendo Prado (Andalucía-CajaSur), were named in May. The other five riders remain anonymous and unsanctioned.

The WSJ also claims that at least two members of the biological passport panel are concerned that the UCI may be shielding guilty riders from punishment. Meanwhile, another member, Olaf Schumacher, offered his support to cycling’s governing body. "I never had the feeling they were trying to cover up something," he said.

World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman is quoted as saying that his organisation is now seeking access to the blood and urine profiles that are collected via the UCI’s biological passport programme. “Our job is to make sure the system isn't being sidestepped,” Howman said. “We have the right of intervening if we think cases aren't being prosecuted appropriately.”

Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid has explained that the UCI does not divulge the biological passport panel’s recommendations to WADA as it is not obliged to do so. “That's a question for WADA. They're the ones who make the rules,” McQuaid said, before reiterating his credo in cycling’s right to police itself.

However, McQuaid did confirm to the Wall Street Journal that eight riders were flagged by the biological passport panel in December and that just three of those riders have had cases brought against them to date. The cases of the remaining riders remain open and may yet result in sanctions, but the five in question remain anonymous.

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.